International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 35, Issue 2, Fall 2021

Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D.
Pages 171-181

What is an Emotion?

This paper distinguishes between two types of emotion: (1) “bottom-up” largely “prewired” or conditioned responses to environmental stimuli and (2) “top-down” “evaluative” emotions that are a function of a person’s evaluative inferences and use of “emotive” language. The paper, in turn, develops an analysis of the latter type of emotion and formulates a definition that tracks three interrelated levels of activity transpiring during an emotional episode: logico-linguistic (a chain of practical syllogistic inferences), phenomenological (interoceptive feelings), and neurological (cortical and subcortical brain activities). In the light of this analysis, it shows how Logic-Based Therapy (LBT), a prominent form of philosophical counseling created by the author, can be used to overcome self-destructive forms of evaluative emotions such as intense anxiety, anger, and guilt, and depression.